Sons & Daughters [San Francisco]
Last night, I had dinner with a client at Sons & Daughters, a restaurant that hasn't received much notice here. Simply put: it was an impeccable dining experience.
The cuisine is inventive, both in terms of food combinations and presentation. The set menu spans the range from greens to fish to meat, but the staff is quite attentive to food restrictions and eager to make accomodations as needed. And we sat and ate and talked for several hours, with no pressure to make room for another seating.
From briney Monterey sea grapes, to Sacramento sturgeon with smoked green garlic, from buckwheat bread to bergamot curd with sweet woodruff meringue... It was brilliant.
I am not much of a steak eater, but the Akaushi beef was indescribably delicious.
I didn't do the wine pairing, but I bet it woulda been phenomenal. When I have the time, I will past some photos. But I just wanted to quickly put this resto on the list of destinations for an amazing dining experience.
We finally made it to Sons & Daughters and it was just exquisite. Like Coi, it has a highly vegetable-oriented focus; we had just one seafood dish and one duck dish. But these are amazing vegetables, many from their farm in Los Gatos, and cooked with great care. The end result is a multi-course tasting menu that doesn't weigh you down at the end.
However their culinary style is very much their own, not at all like Coi except for the overall tasting menu structure. Particular highlights were an out-of-this-world heirloom tomato soup - I love tomato soup, I love heirloom tomatoes, the combination of both was even more amazing than I expected - a scallop dish with salsify and ground cherries that was the equal of anything I had while living in Boston, and a fabulous duck dish with fig sauce.
The wine pairings were very inventive, including some wine styles I hadn't had before. For instance, the sherry-like rosé of Tibouren from Clos Cibonne was a revelation and a surprisingly fine pairing with the scallop dish. A Mondeuse from Bugey went great with the duck. The only wine pairing clinker was a Fiano from Harrington in Santa Clara Valley. We were really curious because we love Fiano, and the only California version we knew is a great rendition from Solis down in Gilroy. Alas, the Harrington Fiano was way over-alcoholic for our tastes. But that's OK; these wine pairings were not safe choices, and I bet other diners loved the Fiano but may not have cared for the Tibouren or the Mondeuse. If you go with more unusual styles you'll eventually wind up with something you don't care for; it goes with the adventurous territory.
We'll definitely have to get back here - what a treat!
loved. as escargot3 said, from start to finish, what a treat. lovely space, friendly and great service. we had:
an amuse of a buttermilk cracker (like a shrimp chip, actually), with creme fraiche, trout roe, lemon.
fried oysters, dill and unripe strawberries
buckwheat bread roll (part of a three-part bread course)
roasted baby beets, with vadouvan spices and greens
sea urchin, shaved delta asparagus, smoked bread
a brioche-type roll
chicken with greens and crispy crackling of chicken skin
a pretzel roll
lamb shoulder with artichokes, pickled carrots and favas
raspberry sorbet with raw almonds and salad burnet
white chocolate with huckleberry and redwood clover and
geranium ice cream
a lovely bday gift of more sweets for the birthday girl (my sister).
everything was amazing, if not startlingly so. i loved that the bread course was three different types of rolls, instead of just one that you fill up on.
the first four dishes were all just lovely surprises, inventive and delicious, while the two proteins were heartier but still wonderful.
the fried oyster was perfectly paired with the unripe berries.
the uni with the greens were amazing.
the GERANIUM ICE CREAM - i like neither the look nor smell of geraniums, and i'm not even much of a dessert person, and this was a stand-out for me.
mignardise for the birthday girl (my sister). they also poured us each a little bubbly in honor of her.
i had a couple glassed of a white wine: Hondarrabi Zuri Ameztoi 2012 Getariko Txakolina - Basque, very crisp, dry, lovely.
i'm going to rank this up there with Commis in Oakland, though it's not as "fussy" (and i love Commis).
a few pics.
really good. very attentive. waitstaff and even chefs/cooks came out and answered questions, servers kept coming back. warm and friendly. and again, nice touch with the bubbly for the bday toast.
only thing i just realized: they add a 15% service charge which is shared by the entire staff. i didn't notice it on the menu - but it's there. and i tipped a bit over 20% in addition to that - so i was quite shocked when the total came up on my bank account. however, i called, and they refunded my tip - which is a bummer, i didn't want to UNDER-tip - but he said they couldn't refund the 15%. i'll overtip next time. we loved the service.
nope, it's on the bottom of the tasting menu, for one and all. i wish they had pointed it out to me, but it "was" there, in writing, so i can't really complain. the guy who answered the phone today was very gracious and insisted i should not feel bad about being refunded the 20% tip.
i don't know if it includes managers. but i will say that almost everyone there came to our table at one point or another. maybe two of the cooking staff did not. so, like 5 or 6 people. but it was never obtrusive.
Oh, he and I had the same meal, and for once, he and I agree. And we both omitted another stellar item that arrived with the check: a most delicate, melt in the mouth mint & chocclate macaron with a pear pate de fruit that had a solid, very fresh flavor.
Only thing, I'd give it 1 bell for noise level. It was really quiet, yet all the tables were occupied.